Blogmas Day 9 – Three Irritating Questions You’ll Be Asked At Christmas Parties

Christmas is a time of socialising, which is both good and bad. Boozy night down the pub with beloved old friends you haven’t seen for a year? Good! Cheeky after work prosecco with your besties just because it’s Christmas? Good! Pretending you’re going Christmas shopping with your Dad but bunking off and going down the pub together? A joy! But anything else is hell.

The problem is, small talk is awful, and everyone knows it, but when you don’t really know/like the person you are talking to, big talk is impossible so you’re left with inane crap. So you will be asked the following questions, many times, over the weeks to come. Brace yourselves…

When are you going to do your next life step?

This is everyone’s favourite irritating question, and it’s with you your whole life. When are you going to big school? Uni? Getting a job? Getting a boyfriend? Getting engaged, getting married, having kids? Another kid? Another? No? When’s your kid going to big school? Uni? When are you having grandkids? When are your grandkids getting married? On and on and on.

Actually this is one where being engaged is great. “When are you getting married?” People say. “Next May!” You chirp. “Ah, great!” They go. “All the best!” Bosh. Conversation achieved. But if you don’t know the answer, or the answer makes you sad somehow or you just don’t think it’s any of their sodding business, you need to flip this thing around.

“When and where are you going to uni?” they say.

“Oh, not sure yet.” You say. “Where did you go to uni? Tell me tales of your time there.”

And you can drink your warm white wine in peace while they tell you about that time that Tristram stole a traffic cone and put it on a police horse like a hat.

You’ve lost weight.

Obviously, people will only say this to you if you actually have lost weight, but it’s worth mentioning, because if you have they will say it to you all the bloody time.

Just to be clear, I do not mean people who say “Have you lost weight? You look great!” That is a nice thing to say, and obviously you grin and go “Thankssssss. I like your handbag.” Or whatever. I’m talking about just the words “you’ve lost weight”, then nothing.

So, to start with, this is not a question, is it? It’s a statement. A bloody obvious statement. Yes. I know. I have. Your point? There are much more offensive variations – a surprisingly large amount of people use your weight loss to bang on about how grotesque they think fat people are, like you lost two stone because you suddenly decided that wearing size 16 jeans was morally wrong or some shit. Fuck that! Don’t fat shame my former self you, dreadful arse.

There are, however, a small proportion of people who are saying this because they want to lose weight too and they’re after tips on how to do it. I always think that you owe these people a real answer. Let’s not propagate the myth that having the exact body you want is easy, and anyone can do it if they only apply a little willpower.

The best way to deal with this potential duality is to lean forward to them and pull a little conspiratorial/empathetic face and say, “Oh, are you worried about your weight?” This is great because the nice ones who genuinely wanted to know will go “Mmmm. Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it a bit…” and you can tell them about how Slimming World really isn’t as bad as it looks, quite jolly once you make a couple of friends actually. But if they were being rude, they will be SO OFFENDED but totally unable to say anything about it because they started it hahahahaha.

How’s work?

This is a nice question, but bloody awkward. Because basically work is either good or bad and if it’s good you’re going to sound like a smug tosser and if it’s bad than you’re going to have to think about WORK while you’re at a PARTY and also you just bloody know if you end up slagging off your boss this is going to turn out to be her cousin or something because that’s just how life works. No thank you! Also this is a question you can’t just flip around because there is a very real danger that they’ve asked you because they want to talk about their own career in excruciating detail forever and they will drone on about their boring feuds with their boring colleagues and make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a little sausage on a stick .

Instead of answering this obviously trick question, you do what my Mum does because she is brilliant at this. You just roll your eyes and puff out your cheeks and say something like,

“WELL. What can you do, eh? Hahaha. No peace for the wicked, eh? Is there? Haha. Would you like another glass of wine?”

And then if they try to press you on the matter you have already established that you want another glass of wine, so you can flee with impunity.

What irritating Christmas questions have I missed? Comment your most awful examples below!

3 Comment

  1. Note to self: do not read this blog at work or you’ll end up herniating yourself trying not to laugh out loud.

    “What are you doing for Christmas?” Why? Because it used to expose the whole thing where my father had disowned me (“not going to Wales, to see your family, then?” No, nosy bastard, I’m not), and Christmas is supposed to be about family, innit.

    Nowadays, I mostly just despise it because it’s generally asked by people who couldn’t give three cold tosses what you’re doing, as evinced by their lack of positive listening response when you tell them what you’re actually doing (eating, sleeping, being designated driver for my partners to visit their parents on 25th, since I don’t drink).

    People who know me well don’t ask, in general – they say “You staying in Cambridge over the holidays, then?” with a cheery look on their face. “Yes,” I say, “I’m going to sleep away the whole of Boxing Day.” “Awesome!” they say, and mean it.

  2. Alastair Blubbock says: Reply

    I’ve asked all of these questions because I’m a terrible person. I’ve recently tried to broaden my conversational horizons with less small but not to deep openers.
    One that’s good for Christmas is “what’s your biggest dream for the new year? ” also the fail safe “seen any good movies/read any good books / enjoyed any good tv shows lately”.

    Any tips on other good openers?

  3. Nikki Lewkowicz says: Reply

    A variation on the ‘life step question’ but I am continually asked “How’s married life?” There are two main ways of asking this question. Increasingly, nice friends who are engaged or moving in with a partner want my wisdom. “It’s brilliant!” I say, wisely. “Because he is brilliant. I imagine it would be shit to marry an asshole!” And we laugh. The other way comes from people who I presume also hate small talk and are just trying. This is fine, but there is no polite response. “Oh, just lovely, thanks…how is your own relationship going, relative stranger? Well? Or are you single? Maybe you like that? Yes or no?” These are all rude questions, to which I don’t even want the answer. So instead I say “Oh, just lovely, thanks.” And smile until they ask when I’m having a baby…

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